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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Hate to Support the Ex-Gay Movement on Anything...

But I can't in good conscience support the petition demanding that Apple remove an app by Exodus International for its anti-gay content.

Exodus is one of the leading ex-gay Christian organizations in the country, and, as you might expect, their propaganda, on their website and on their app, is profoundly misleading and hateful.  But it's not any worse than what you're likely to find on the Exodus website, which is accessible through the Safari browser on your iPhone.  Why is it unacceptable for them to promote the same hurtful message through an app, if it's perfectly all right for them run a similar website.

I suspect many of the signatories to the petition don't see a qualitative difference between app content and web content. The only real distinction is that, here, there's a censor to appeal to.  Apple wants to act as a gatekeeper for content and is committed to removing apps which are "offensive to large groups of people."  That's not an approach I want to endorse.

People with smartphones paid for memory storage.  They should be able to keep any kind of content saved to their device, whether or not I find it offensive.  Apple has a history of infantilizing and abusing its app store customers by withdrawing any app that musters a vocal opposition.   Among the deleted: an app criticizing Mohammed and the Koran, a saucy satirist, and anything that might boost Apple's rivals.  Apple's power to censor needs to be curbed, not expanded.

If you want to attack the app, feel free to leave a negative reviews, as many already have.  The app evaluation system means you've got a much better chance to present your argument to people who may be wavering; after all, most websites don't let you critique their content on their homepage.  This is the appropriate response to the Exodus app and all other offensive apps.  The gay rights movement can't let our legitimate outrage with Exodus be used to help Apple legitimize its terrible approach to content and the rights of the tech user.

UPDATE: Apple pulled the app.


Ben said...

I think this protest comes out of outrage in a system where Apple has already banned so many things, that people have given up trying to have them censor less. So if Apple is going to censor, you might as well try to have them censor hate. This seems more legitimate to me than characterized here.

Leah said...

I don't want to legitimize Apple's tactics by taking advantage of them for my own political positions. What will I say when Christians attack gay pride apps?